SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It is a well-known fact that Peter Crinella is regarded by most as being one of the top five hockey players in the state. What many may not know is the Springfield Cathedral junior isn't too shabby as a baseball player either.
During Tuesday's inter-city clash against Springfield Central, Crinella, playing third base, made a diving stop of a Edwin Camacho bullet with the bases loaded to prevent a run. Then, with one out in the top of the fifth inning and his team ahead by a run, Crinella was called upon to take the mound in the hopes of preventing the Golden Eagles from inflicting any further damage.
Crinella answered the call magnificently as he held Central without a hit over the final 2 2/3 innings in helping the Panthers earn a 3-2 victory at Walker Grandstand on the grounds of Forest Park.
Crinella came on in relief of DJ Petruzzelli, who had struggled with his command throughout the afternoon. Crinella had a moving fastball that was hitting the edges on both sides of the plate consistently.
"DJ is a lefty who was throwing hard so it's a nice change of pace with me coming in throwing hard from the right side," said Crinella, who is committed to hockey at Holy Cross. "(Head) coach (Pat) Moriarty was telling me to drive my legs and use my body which I hadn't been doing so much in the past. He got me going today so it felt much better."
With the victory, the Panthers improve to 6-2 while the Golden Eagles drop to 4-4.
Scoreless over the first two frames, Central got to Petruzzelli for a run in its half of the third. Sam Allen walked and Ju'an Williams followed with a single. After a ground out advanced both runners, Isan Diaz was intentionally walked. Eddie Acevedo followed and demonstrated great patience at the plate as the senior earned a walk to force Allen in from third.
Moments later, Camacho speared a hard grounder that appeared destined for left field, but Crinella made a diving stab, got up and stepped on third before Diaz could get there for the force out and keep it a one-run deficit.
Cathedral wasted little time answering back. In the bottom half of the inning, Cam Griffin singled and took second on a pass ball. A walk to Matt Cieboter was quickly followed by a pair of outs.
That left it up to Kevin Hassett. The senior came up huge by belting an opposite field double to right to score both runners and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Hassett's shot got caught up in the wind and was slicing away from right fielder Luis Ortiz who came within an eyelash of making a great diving catch.
In the Golden Eagles' half of the fourth, they would load the bases against Petruzzelli with none out. Allen then stroked a hard single to left to knot things at 2-2. After Williams popped to Crinella for Central's first out, the Golden Eagles were still in good shape to add to their total with the bases full. But they would only settle for the one run after Petruzzelli got Seth Allen to bounce into a double play.
With righthander Mike LaFlamme now on the hill in place of Camacho (3 IP, 3 hits) to begin the bottom of the fourth, the sophomore made quick work of the first two Panther batters but walked No. 9 batter Nate Jurkowski. The senior then stole second and came around to score on Griffin's bleeder into left to give Cathedral the lead for good.
"We've been playing a lot of situational hitting and not be afraid to score with two outs," Moriarty said. "We took a couple of extra bases and managed to get key hits at the right time. Central had their chances early but DJ was able to wiggle out of it pretty well and I thought Pete did a great job coming in and slamming the door shut. He's got good velocity and like him in this role as a closer."
LaFlamme, who was called up to the varsity just prior to this game, settled down nicely after the fourth, allowing just one hit over the final two frames.
"He impressed us," Golden Eagles head coach Mike Donato said. "The only mistake he made was (Griffin's) hit just over the shortstop's glove. Offensively today it just wasn't there for us. We really weren't challenging their defense at all by hitting a lot of balls into the air.
"Cathedral made the plays they needed to make to win this game and we didn't. They came through with some big two-out hits which are things that win you baseball games. We just didn't get enough of those things today."
With Crinella now on in relief, the Golden Eagles had a difficult time trying to time his fastball. Their bats through the zone were slow which made things much easier for Crinella, who was in control for the remainder of this game.
"As you would expect this was two good teams going at it today," Crinella said. "You never stop being positive and we all had a plan going up to the plate. We had some big hits all around and it wasn't coming from the number 3, 4 or 5 guys as you would expect but it came from everyone and that's huge."
Following the game, several Major League Baseball scouts were on hand to watch Diaz take batting practice. Diaz, a Vanderbilt University commit, but is also projected to be selected in the early rounds of June's MLB Amateur Draft, hit several deep shots using a wooden bat.